The fleet of British Airways has grown by a fairly small amount over the past year. The airline has phased out a single narrowbody aircraft but has accepted a handful of new narrowbodies and widebodies to facilitate further growth and modernization. This article will be an in-depth examination of the British Airways fleet and any changes that have taken place since we last looked at the airline in early 2022.
The British Airways fleet at a glance
When it comes to British Airways' mainline passenger fleet, we can see from Planespotters.net data that the airline has 264 passenger aircraft. The types and quantities are as follows:
- 30x Airbus A319-100s
- 67x Airbus A320-200s
- 20x Airbus A320neos
- 17x Airbus A321-200s
- 10x Airbus A321neos
- 13x Airbus A350-1000s
- 43x Boeing 777-200ERs
- 16x Boeing 777-300ERs
- 12x Boeing 787-8s
- 18x Boeing 787-9s
- 6x Boeing 787-10s
- 12x Airbus A380s
Now, looking at a website like Planespotters.net, you'll see that the carrier is listed as having 289 aircraft in its collection. However, this includes about two dozen aircraft not part of the mainline fleet. This includes five Fairchild Dornier 328JET-300s operated by SUN-AIR of Scandinavia, as well as 20 Embraer E190s operated by BA CityFlyer.
SUN-AIR of Scandinavia, or simply SUN-AIR, is a British Airways franchise partner, offering the same full in-flight services. The carrier's Dornier 328 Jets are painted in British Airways livery and can be seen flying in and out of airports like Manchester and London City.
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Changes since 2022
In mid-March we produced a YouTube video looking at the state of the British Airways fleet. At the time, the carrier only had 254 aircraft in its mainline fleet, indicating a modest increase over the past year. So what has changed?
When it comes to the airline's all-Airbus narrowbody fleet, we see that there have been no changes to its collection of A319s, with the quantity holding firm at 30. This is also the case for its A320-200 fleet, which was also at 67 aircraft last year. For the airline's A320neos, however, three were added over the past year, with the carrier accepting its 20th in April 2023.
For the airline's A321 fleet, we see that a single Airbus A321-200 was officially phased out. This is likely the aircraft registered G-MEDJ, which last flew for the airline before the pandemic. Only in 2023 has it moved again - flying out of storage in Madrid and heading over to San Antonio to be converted into a freighter. As for the airline's A321neos, no new additions have come over the last year.
Before moving on to widebody aircraft changes, it’s worth noting that many of BA’s older narrowbodies now operate as BA Euroflyer - the airline’s short-haul subsidiary based out of London Gatwick.
Finally, examining recent changes to British Airways' widebody fleet, we can see that the airline added four Boeing 787-10s as well as four Airbus A350-1000s. The carrier's 777-200s and -300s have remained the same, as have its 787-8s and -9s. Airbus A380 fans will be happy to hear that the number of superjumbos is holding firm as well.
Modernizing the narrowbody fleet
On April 22nd, British Airways took delivery of its 20th Airbus A320neo. The aircraft made the short journey from Toulouse, across France and the English Channel, to London Heathrow in just over 90 minutes. With this delivery complete, the UK carrier is on record to take delivery of 11 more of the type. The airline's website notes that it intends to operate 22 by the end of 2023, which would mean two more will come over the next few months.
British Airways' parent company IAG has been a major customer of the A320neo family of aircraft, ordering dozens of NEO jets over the past decade. In a 2013 statement to Reuters regarding a firm order for 20 Airbus A320neos, IAG stated,
“These aircraft are currently intended to replace 21 shorthaul British Airways’ aircraft but will be reallocated if the airline cannot make a profitable return from its shorthaul business,”
It's interesting that British Airways isn't implementing a one-in-one-out strategy with the arrival of its A320neos. Instead of phasing out the A320-200s, the carrier is continuing to operate these older jets while also growing its fleet and adding more capacity - the most popular way of handling the post-pandemic growth of travel.
More Airbus A350-1000s on the way
As per ch-aviation.com data, the UK carrier still expects to take delivery of another five Airbus A350-1000s. Interestingly, British Airways took delivery of two of these widebodies in March 2022, and another in August 2022. However, since then, the carrier has failed to grow this part of the fleet.
There is a good chance that this will change quite soon. Data from Aviation Flights shows that Airbus has been preparing two A350-1000s for British Airways. These are the jets with manufacturer serial numbers (MSN) 609 and 617. Respectively, these jets will be registered G-XWBN and G-XWBO.
British Airways deploys its A350-1000s to various corners of the world, including Accra, Chicago, Mumbai, Hong Kong, São Paulo, Vancouver, and much more.
787-10 deliveries taking place again
September 2022 saw some particularly positive news for British Airways and its 787-10 fleet. Indeed, it was in mid-September that the carrier took delivery of its 1st Boeing 787 in over two years.
The airline accepted its very first two Boeing 787-10s in the space of a week way back in 2020, but experienced an extremely long pause in adding more of the stretched Dreamliners to the fleet. In fact, any brand-new aircraft assembled by Boeing had been sent to desert storage in California instead.
If you've been following aviation news over the past few years you might already know why British Airways had a two-year-long pause in Dreamliner deliveries. Part of this stoppage was the pandemic but the largest contributing factor was due to a 15-month-long delivery pause on Dreamliners, due to issues that Boeing needed to resolve in the production process.
Since resuming 787 deliveries in August 2022, British Airways has accepted four 787-10s. After the first post-stoppage delivery in September, the airline received another two in December 2022. The airline's most recent 787-10, at least at the time of publication, arrived at the beginning of April 2023. The carrier's 7th 787-10 is in its later stages of being prepared for delivery with Aviation Flights data showing that the jet conducted its 7th test flight out of Boeing facilities in Charleston on April 27th.
Still waiting for the 777X
A big part of British Airways' future fleet is its order of Boeing 777X aircraft. With Boeing currently only offering one variant of its updated 777 model, we know that all of these jets will be the 777-9 variant. As per ch-aviation.com data, the airline is expecting a total of 18 of the type - a figure that has remained the same since we look at the fleet last year.
While the orders for the 777X have remained the same, the airline's timeline for getting its first new jet has shifted yet again. As we noted in July 2022, British Airways owner IAG has confirmed that expected deliveries of the type have been pushed further back, with the airline now expecting 777X deliveries between 2026 and 2028. In our reporting last year, we had indicated that the airline was expecting the jets between 2024 and 2027.
At this time, Boeing expects certification of the type in late 2024, with airline deliveries starting in early 2025.
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Notable incidents over the past year
While, thankfully, we haven't seen any disastrous incidents over the past year involving British Airways aircraft, there have been a few notable pieces of news.
A number of incidents took place over the course of 2022 which involved the carrier's Airbus A320-200 fleet. In July, one of these jets flying to Bodrum in Turkey had to endure an unplanned stopover in Frankfurt due to an engine failure that occurred whilst flying over Germany. That same month, another A320 suffered from a hot brakes issue upon landing in Copenhagen, resulting in its left-hand side being doused in foam. While no injuries were reported, the issue resulted in the return flight to London being canceled. Finally for A320 incidents, September 21st saw a jet flying from Bari (Italy) to London Gatwick airport perform a go-around after detecting a nose gear steering malfunction while on approach. The jet managed to perform a safe landing after the go-around, but required towing once it reached the end of the runway.
Over the past year we also had a handful of incidents involving the airline's Boeing 787 fleet. Just a few months ago, in January 2023, flight BA143 from London Heathrow to Delhi was forced to turn around due to a technical issue while flying over the Black Sea. The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner landed safely back at Heathrow after almost eight hours in the air, resulting in a fairly lengthy 'flight to nowhere' for the aircraft's passengers. The following month, British Airways flight BA216 flying to London from Washington Dulles experienced smoke in the cabin. The jet was diverted to Halifax where it spent several days on the ground. Strangely, the cause of the smoke could not be found.
Continuing to slowly grow and modernize
Having added about a dozen aircraft to its fleet in 2022, British Airways is clearly growing slowly and steadily, with the expectation of taking more new aircraft in the months ahead. Hopefully, the carrier's timeline for taking 777X aircraft won't be delayed again, but we'll just have to wait and see how this situation develops.
What is your favorite aircraft in the British Airways fleet? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment!
- IATA/ICAO Code:
- Airline Type:
- Full Service Carrier
- London Heathrow Airport, London Gatwick Airport
- Year Founded:
- Airline Group:
- Sean Doyle
- United Kingdom